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As France Fabius Meets Ban, UN Doesn't List or Disclose it, Ladsous & W. Sahara Qs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 19, updated  -- France's new foreign minister Laurent Fabius, the French Mission to the UN gushed before 8 am on Friday, would meet Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday to discuss "Syria, Israel - Palestine, the Sahel, Somalia and Rio + 20."

  There are, of course, questions about this hyped-up tete a tete: why not list Western Sahara, since one of ousted foreign minister Alain Juppe's last meetings was with the new Moroccan foreign minister, who is trying to oust UN mediator Christopher Ross?

   Jean Marc Ayrault seems to have different view of Western Sahara. Does Fabius?

  There is also the question, much talked about at the UN, of when Ambassador Gerard Araud will leave New York, or at least the UN.

  Others wonder if uncommunicative UN Peacekeeping boss Herve Ladsous, who Nicolas Sarkozy pushed in as a last minute replacement for Jerome Bonnafont when the latter bragged too much about getting the job, should now himself be replaced by a less autocratic and more qualified French military figure.

  Amid these questions, it seemed worth asking WHEN this meeting of Fabius and Ban would be taking place.

   Every day the UN posts a schedule for Ban, and meeting with foreign ministers are usually also listed as photo opportunities, sometimes followed by media question and answer sessions on the North Lawn building's second floor, or less formally on the first floor where the Moroccan foreign minister, for example, took questions from Inner City Press.

But on Friday 12 hours after the French Mission's announcement, Ban's schedule still did not list Fabius.

  And so Inner City Press asked Ban's office, since the French Mission does not answer questions, the following: "the French Mission has said that new Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is meeting with the Secretary General on Saturday, but checking the S-G's schedule it lists nothing for Saturday... IS the S-G meeting with Minister Fabius on Saturday? If so, at what time? Will there be a photo op? Separately, will there be a read out?"

   Having no answer to this question for more than eight hours, Inner City Press posed it more publicly. Still, nothing.

  Then the French Mission - but not the UN -- posted a photograph but no read out of the meeting.

   Fabius was not added to Ban Ki-moon's online schedule, nor has any read out been provided, just as it was not of Ban's meeting with Morocco's foreign minister (which was, at least, listed in Ban's schedule.)

  The most recent analogy to this was a call Ban made to the presiddent of Mongolio about the incarceration of that country's former leader, a call that Mongolia publicized but the UN didn't even acknowledge took place until Inner City Press asked at the noon briefing.

   France is a Permanent Five member of the Security Council; it seems unlikely things would be done this way with, for example, Mr. Lavrov or Hillary Clinton. So why with Fabius? Watch this site.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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